Not women, but the traditional way women were

Not only was it
difficult to write as women, but the traditional way women were presented
before the 1960s was difficult to escape. Women were traditionally treated as
sex objects or just ignored (Rabkin 9). Sam J. Lundwall, author of Science
Fiction: What It’s All About, described women in Science Fiction as a
“compulsory appendage” and said they were treated as “inferior creatures;” the
ignorance of female characters gave the male lead a chance to explain things
and captured women gave the man a chance to be the white knight in shining
armor (9). Anne McCaffrey, author of Science Fiction: Today and Tomorrow asserted
that in most Science Fiction before the ’60s “the girl was still a ‘thing,’ to
be ‘used,'” to prove the hero’s manliness or to prove he was not gay (9-10). In
1972, Le Guin said of Science Fiction:

In general,
American Science Fiction has assumed a permanent hierarchy of superiors and
inferiors, with rich, ambitious, aggressive males at the top, then a great gap,
and then at the bottom the poor, the uneducated, the faceless masses, and all
the women.

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(“American SF
and the Other”)

In another interview Le Guin described how
many people assumed that “what interests’ men is what will interest the novel
reader,” and how when books focused on men they were considered to be for
everybody, but books that focused on women were viewed as only for women (Walsh
200). When this interview was conducted in 1995 Le Guin argued that it was
still true in the present day (201).

            In an interview from 1986 with Octavia Butler,
she discussed the difficulties she faced as a female Science Fiction writer as
well. She explained how Science Fiction was still limited by what editors,
publishers, readers, and critics thought it should be (Beal 1). She said that,
“In the past, there were editors who didn’t really think that sex or women
should be mentioned or at least not used other than as rewards for the hero or
terrible villainesses” (1). Like Butler, Joanna Russ believed that we live in a
patriarchy where, “Both men and women in our culture conceive the
culture from a single point of view – the male.” Russ describes in her book of
essays To Write Like a Women: Essays in Feminism and Science Fiction,
that in most books there are images of women as “they exist only in relation to
the protagonist” (81). In her book, Russ asserts that there are only a small
number of “myths” or story lines women authors can use if they want to write
about women and have the story be accepted (83). She believes this is the case
for nearly all genres. However, Russ thinks Science Fiction is one of the few
genres that allow authors to get around this. She says the myths in Science
Fiction are ones of “human intelligence and human adaptability” (91) and they
theoretically can ignore gender roles and are not bound by one’s society or
culture (91).